Our homebirth story & birthing confidently
Prior to the loss of our second child, homebirth was an inconceivable idea to me. In fact, after the birth of our first child, Wren, I distinctly recall thinking my sister was crazy for planning a homebirth with her first babe. At the time, I hadn’t even considered the fact that birthing women had a CHOICE in where they birthed their babies!
We can choose if we birth in a hospital or not?
It blew my naive little mind...
Try as I might, I can not put my finger on the exact reason why, or moment when, I decided that homebirth was the route for us. Although my experience with our loss of Tommy was heartbreaking and soul crushing, it never tainted my belief in my body to sustain a healthy pregnancy and birth a healthy baby. I had done it before, I knew I could do it again.
We were relocating interstate temporarily when I was due to give birth to Clover and the idea of searching for a suitable hospital and care taker from another state was overwhelming and planning to birth at home seemed easier.
Homebirth has a bad stigma of being complicated, risky and scary but to me it felt the opposite – when I thought of homebirthing vs the alternative of delivering in a strange hospital, with medical staff I didn’t know, had never met and with a big fat sticker on my file screaming PREVIOUS MISCARRIAGE it was a no brainer.
I broached the topic with hubby and at first he reacted as expected, actually, exactly how I had reacted when my sister was planning her homebirth. Hesitant, worried, wanting so bad to be supportive but sporting obvious reservations. I knew it was coming from a good place, from not wanting to ‘risk it’ and wanting me to be ‘somewhere safe’ but after meeting with a few homebirth experts and speaking with others we decided it was the right path for us.
My hubby has a fantastic quality in that if he knows I am confident about something, he will back me 110%; it’s more than I can say for myself. He’s more supportive of me in all of life’s endeavours than I could ever dream to be of anyone and I just hope he passes that onto our children. The world needs more people like my husband.
When discussing with others our decision to homebirth, the message was received on the negative side with shock and doubt, and on the positive side, with awe and encouragement. Why were so many people doubtful of my ability to birth? Some barely knew me but somehow felt they knew enough about me to doubt whether I could do the one thing my body was surely capable of doing…
However, I found that if I presented my decision to others with strong confidence in my ability to birth, that the decision to homebirth was already being normalised to them. Simply by hearing about one woman choosing to do so and having no reservations about her ability to birth her baby, medication free and in the comfort of her own home.
This is why it is so important for women to speak their truths and be open and transparent about their life’s experiences – how are we to break down the stigma of topics such as loss or homebirth without opening the dialogue and presenting others with the opportunity to mull the ideas over in their own minds?
I was being treated with kid gloves by the medical professionals who had seen me through our loss with Tommy and part of me wanted to leave that behind, I considered not telling my new midwives about our loss for fear that I would be labelled “high risk” and have all choice torn from me again – but to my surprise, the universe decided to do me a solid and send me a midwife direct from the angels above. I could not have wished for a better fit.
My pregnancy was smooth and worry free.
I managed to go forward into this pregnancy leaving most of the anxiousness from my loss with Tommy behind. I started to believe in myself as a resilient and strong woman.
My day arrived. My belly babe and I were 40 weeks and 5 days into our relationship and it was time to finally meet. I had been having mild contractions all day whilst out shopping with my Mum and it took until 8pm that night for me to decide progress was solid enough for me to call my midwife. On her day off. She made me promise to and I really didn’t want to do it without her, so call her on her day off I did, and come to my house on her day off she did. What a gem.
Hubby got to work setting up the birth pool, laying down tarps and checking on me intermittently while I snapchatted to friends and bounced away on the birth ball. My midwife, her colleague and a student midwife arrived and assumed their positions at the dining room table with my Mum where they proceeded to chat and drink tea for the rest of the night.
Not one of them laid a hand on me until after our babe was born. No cervix checks. No strangers coming in and out of the room, flicking on lights and leaving doors open. Just tea and conversation and gentle words of encouragement. What a contrast this was to my first two birth experiences. It was beautiful. I was left to my own devices but knew that I had people there ready to support me if I should need it.
In preparation for our homebirth I armed myself with knowledge and learnt about a simply amazing capability of the female body. Studies show that during labour a woman’s body produces, what some have termed, ‘fight or flight’ hormones.
These hormones typically hit their highest during the transition period between stage 1 and 2 of labour. Studies show if these hormones peak early on in labour, due to perceived fear or danger, that contractions are inhibited and blood flow to the uterus is slowed; therefore labour stalls and sometimes even stops.
Sarah Buckley in her book ‘Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering’ states:
“This reflex makes sense for mammals birthing in the wild, where the presence of danger would activate the fight-or-flight response, inhibiting labour and diverting blood to the major muscle groups so the mother can fight or more likely, flee to safety.”
Consider that for a moment, how actually bloody amazing are our bodies?! Ever heard of women whose obstetricians have ordered them to a c-section because labour has “stalled” or because of “lack of progress” – now consider that maybe the unfamiliar birthing environment and threats of unwanted medical interventions could possibly have contributed to this ‘lack of progress’ in the mother’s labour?
On the flip side, these hormones can also stimulate contractions and contribute to the simply amazing phenomena I referred to above – the Fetal Ejection Reflex.
This reflex is proven to occur at transition and is usually the product of a birthing scenario in which the mother feels safe, supported and protected during a labour that has been undisturbed. These hormones peak and the mother experiences intense involuntary contractions which lead to her baby being delivered swiftly and with ease.
With Wren’s birth I spent 2 hours being told when to push and which position to lie in to deliver her, when an unknown nurse came in snapping her gloves and yelling that she would ‘need to cut’ me if I didn’t deliver my baby soon – it was all the motivation my body needed and within 2 pushes Wren was born. Whilst my labour with Wren was not undisturbed, I wanted so badly to NOT be cut that my hormones and adrenalin must have peaked enough at that moment to push my body over the line and my baby out.
I wanted to experience the flipside of that this time around. I wanted to feel safe and supported and have my body do its thing and roll with the punches of labour undisturbed and that is just what we did. I did not have to physically ‘push’ during labour at all; I submitted myself to the process entirely and used my breaks between contractions to brace myself for the next.
Clover was born...
after a 2 hour active labour.
She was born into the birth pool, with my hands guiding her to the surface. It was the most empowering experience of my life. So much so that I often say to hubby now that I am not sure I want any more children, but I would give birth again in a heartbeat.
Having said all this, I am not naïve enough (anymore) to believe that all women have simple, uncomplicated labours; I know some women’s bodies truly have trouble but what I can’t and won’t validate is the doubt that women seem to innately have on their own ability to birth unaided and with minimal medical intervention. That mindset is the product of generations of births in hospitals being subjected to unnecessary medical interventions.
Women’s bodies are designed to birth. Birth is hyped up to be the benchmark in pain and to be a time of panic and alarm but far from that it should be!
Imagine if all women were raised to believe in the ability of their own bodies rather than to default to doubting them?
Imagines if we grew up surrounded by other women who birthed confidently and powerfully in their own environments under their own terms.
How different the business of birth would be. Could we have less incidence of unnecessary medical interventions at birth? Less birth trauma? Less obstetric violence? Happier Mums? Happier and healthier babies?
This is what is happening in the birth world today. Women are on the rise and are starting to believe in their bodies again and it’s about time. Don’t doubt yourself or your body. Trust the process that women’s bodies have been doing since the dawn of time.
Birth is beautiful and birth is natural.
You’ve got this.